Interview With Batman: Arkham Knight Writer Peter J. Tomasi


For the release of of Batman: Arkham Knight Vol. 1, which collects Batman: Arkham Knight #1 – #4, Bam Smack Pow was able to get an exclusive interview with DC Comics writer Peter J. Tomasi.  A former editor himself, Tomasi transitioned to writing later on in his career and has worked on some of DC’s most coveted titles.

(Read More > Batman: Arkham Knight Vol. 1 Review)

Speaking to Mr. Tomasi, we gained some insights into how he developed Bruce Wayne and Batman so that the two egos were in line with what DC and Rocksteady were doing in the Arkham video game series.  He also talks about what draws him to certain characters and the interesting challenges that motivate him.

Bam Smack Pow: Were you familiar with the overall Arkham video game series before writing the Batman: Arkham Knight comic prequel series?

Peter J. Tomasi: In the past, I’ve played all the video games in the Arkham series leading up to Batman: Arkham Knight.  While Batman: Arkham Knight was in development, DC supplied me with some broad strokes in terms of what the video game was about.  I was left with my own devices in coming up with a story and plot.

BSP: What was the inspiration for creating the plot point of Bruce Wayne’s conflict in either continuing to be Batman or focusing full-time on philanthropy to help clean up Gotham City?

PJT: I was inspired by focusing on the human factor of Batman.  Interpersonal relationships and communication are my favorite things to develop for characters.  I wanted to work on Bruce Wayne’s attachment to Gotham City and what it meant to him overall.

BSP: This Bruce Wayne is obviously someone who isn’t fresh, but he’s still not as world-weary as the one seen in the video game Batman: Arkham Knight.  How did you come up with a middle-ground personality for this prequel?  Was there any difficulty in striking a balance between the two?

PJT: I started with the Joker aspect of what happened.  From there, it was pretty much impossible to keep Bruce Wayne as someone fresh to crime fighting.  I also looked at what Rocksteady was doing to Batman.  The angle I approached it was making Bruce a sort of veteran — you know, put him through the ringer.  The events of Batman: Arkham City and what happened to the Joker weren’t going to go away quickly.  Bruce is now a world-weary soldier.

(Read More > Batman: Arkham Knight Vol. 1 Review)

BSP: Did you know about the Arkham Knight’s real identity when you started writing the prequel?  Or was it hidden to you also?  Sort of like how Darth Vader being Anakin Skywalker was hidden from most of the cast of Star Wars.

PJT: I didn’t get it immediately.  A few short weeks into writing, DC and Rocksteady revealed the identity and twist.  I had to know what was going on in order to create certain plot points in the prequel.  When I did find out, it was a surprise.  I thought, “This is great!”  The surprise was in line with what is established.  So, as a writer, I had a lot of fun working on it and just running with it.

BSP: Who to you, out of Batman’s rogues gallery, was the most interesting villain to write in the Batman: Arkham Knight comic series?

PJT: Hmm.  It was a lot of fun writing both Harley Quinn and Scarecrow.  It was interesting to think of their psychological make-up based on the design of the overall video game series.  Plus, I never had an opportunity to write Harley Quinn before.  Even for the Scarecrow, I only had a limited chance on the Villains United run.  So, I enjoyed going deeper into these characters and exploring them more in the Batman: Arkham Knight prequel series.

BSP: Any other takeaways you want the readers to know?

PJT: Yeah.  We have some really great stuff coming up.  There’s the new Batman: Arkham Knight – Genesis six-issue miniseries that’ll be released in August.  It’s got some great artwork which really enhances the story.  We also have something special for Robin.  These are all exciting things we’re bringing to the fans soon.

Batman: Arkham Knight Vol. 1 is now out in comic book shops and available everywhere books are sold.

Peter J. Tomasi became a comics fan at a young age because of Batman comic books his father bought him, television shows such as the Super Friends animated series, and the 1960s Batman series.  Of all the characters, Batman was the first superhero to enter his consciousness, and the first comic book whose creators he recognized.  He cites the works of Denny O’Neill, Neal Adams, and Bob Haney as what attracted him to the character.

Tomasi started his career as an editor at DC in 1993.  He worked on Green Lantern, multiple Batman titles, Aquaman, Hawkman, and JSA.  He was also an occasional writer for multiple titles, including JSA, The Outsiders, Steel and The Light Brigade.  He was later promoted to Senior Editor in 2003.

In 2007, Tomasi transitioned to writing full-time and began on the limited series Black Adam: The Dark Age.  In 2008, he wrote Requiem which was a tribute to the fallen superhero Martian Manhunter.  For fourteen issues, he worked on Nightwing until its cancellation in April 2009.  From 2009 to 2011, he co-wrote, with Keith Champagne, The Mighty, and also worked on the Green Lantern Corps story arc The Blackest Night.  From 2010 to 2011, he co-wrote , with Geoff Johns, the crossover story arc Brightest Day.

In 2011, Tomasi took over writing duties for Batman and Robin, writing the three-part Tree of Blood story arc.  During this period, Tomasi became a regular writer on Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors and Outsiders.  After The New 52 relaunch, he led writing duties on the relaunched volumes of Batman and Robin and Green Lantern Corps.

In February 2011, via an interview with Comic Book Resources, Tomasi stated that his then 8-year old son influenced his approach to writing the character of Damian Wayne in Batman and Robin.

Source: Comic Vine, DC Entertainment, Wikipedia

Next: Batman: Arkham Knight Vol. 1 Review

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